Optical fiber and cable is an important carrier of information communication transmission, as well as one of the foundations of the information base of the digital economy, playing an irreplaceable fundamental strategic role. Over the past decade, China has grown from a major producer of optical fiber and cable to a major power in optical communication. Its infrastructure capacity has greatly improved, which has strongly supported the development of new information technology and communication network construction, and laid a solid foundation for launching a new journey of digital economy.
Optical fiber and cable from manufacturing to optical network construction has achieved leapfrog development
The advantages of high bandwidth and low attenuation of optical fiber make the optical fiber communication technology achieve rapid development in the world. China’s optical fiber and cable manufacturing industry from scratch, from small to large, from weak to strong growth process has practiced the road of scientific development. In recent years, the construction of “broadband China”, “light into copper back”, “double gigabit” and “network power” has boosted the leapfrog development of the optical fiber and cable industry.
In the past ten years, driven by the basic network construction, fixed broadband access and mobile traffic market demand growth, China’s optical fiber market has achieved great development, has built the world’s largest optical fiber network, is worthy of the name of the optical fiber and cable production country. The annual output of optical cable steadily increased from 185 million core kilometers in 2012 to 322 million core kilometers in 2021, with an annual output increase of 73.9 percent. From January to August 2022, the production of optical cables reached 232 million core kilometers, up 11.7 percent year-on-year, maintaining a high growth rate. As of August 2022, it has produced 2.98 billion core kilometers of optical cables in the past decade, ranking first in the world.
China is not only a large production country, but also a trading country, and the fiber optic cable exports number one in the world. In 2021, China’s total fiber and cable exports were 4.9 times that of 2013. Among them, the optical cable export volume in 2021 was 404,000 tons, and the export volume was 1.84 billion yuan, which was 2.2 times and 1.7 times of that in 2017, respectively. The export volume of optical fiber was 9,314 tons and 3.07 billion yuan, 4.7 times and 2.0 times that of 2017 respectively. China’s leading optical fiber and cable enterprises actively layout overseas, and the volume of optical fiber and cable exports has grown steadily. In the first eight months of 2022, the volume of optical fiber and cable exports increased by 22.7% year-on-year.
While the optical fiber and cable industry has developed greatly, the construction of the optical fiber network of our country has made a new breakthrough. The length of optical cable lines increased 2.9 times from 14.81 million km in 2012 to 57.91 million km in June 2022, with a compound annual growth rate of 15.7 percent from 2012 to 2021. China has built the world’s largest and technologically advanced optical fiber fixed communication network and mobile communication network, all prefecture-level cities have built optical network cities, especially the last kilometer of optical fiber cable construction has been rapidly developed in the last decade. The length of access network cable increased by 4.4 times from 6.69 million km in 2012 to 36.25 million km in June 2022, with a compound annual growth rate of more than 20 percent. The proportion of access network cable length also increased from 45.2 percent ten years ago to 62.6 percent at present. Our country has basically realized the optical fiber into the household, and gradually to “14” put forward the goal development of the optical fiber to room (FTTR), optical fiber to desktop (FTTD). Optical fiber OPTIC cable construction has also promoted the construction of rural broadband network, China has historically realized the national administrative village “village broadband”, has made an important contribution to narrow the urban and rural “digital divide”.
The development of optical fiber and cable has led to an exponential increase in fixed Internet access bandwidth
In the past decade, under the promotion of national industrial policies such as 4G/5G network construction, Broadband China, new infrastructure and double gigabit, China’s broadband network construction has been accelerated. The process of optical fiber and high-speed of fixed Internet access users has been accelerated, and the fixed Internet access bandwidth has achieved exponential growth from 10 to 100 to gigabit.
In 2012, among the 175 million fixed Internet access users in China, 81.2% of them had a bandwidth of 2M to 8M, and only 13.1% had a bandwidth of 8M or more. Ten years later, as of the end of August 2022, the number of fixed broadband access users has reached 571 million, an increase of 2.3 times, of which 95.0% are fiber access (FTTH/O) users. 93.8% of the users have access bandwidth of 100 MB or more, and 12.4% of the users have access bandwidth of 1000 MB or more. The access bandwidth of fixed Internet users has been increasing exponentially. In recent years, the number of gigabit bandwidth users has been growing rapidly and the proportion has been increasing.
Behind the rapid growth of the scale and bandwidth of broadband users is the continuous improvement of the development, construction and coverage capacity of optical fiber network. In 2012, fiber-optic access (FTTH/O) ports reached 115 million, accounting for 22.7% of Internet access ports. By August 2022, fiber-optic access (FTTH/O) ports reached 985 million, an increase of 7.7 times, and the proportion of FTTH/O ports in Internet access ports increased to 95.5%. The technology types of Internet broadband access ports have changed fundamentally, and access ports have basically realized all-optical fiber. As of August 2022, the number of 10G passive fiber network (PON) ports with gigabit network service capability reached 12.14 million, and the coverage and service capability of gigabit fiber broadband network are rapidly improving.
The development of optical fiber and cable has strongly supported the construction of mobile networks and the development of Internet applications
The rapid growth of the total length of optical fiber and cable supports the acceleration of the breadth and depth coverage of mobile communication base stations, provides technical support for the increase of the forward and middle transmission capacity of the bearer network of mobile communication, and strongly supports the construction of 4G and 5G mobile communication networks in China. China’s mobile communication base stations increased from 2.07 million in 2012 to 10.62 million in August 2022, representing a 4.1-fold increase in base station scale. The compound annual growth rate of base station scale from 2012 to 2021 was 19.1%. In 2012, there were 820,000 3G base stations, accounting for 39.7 percent of the total number of mobile base stations, and 233 million 3G users, accounting for 20.9 percent of mobile phone users. This decade is the phase of rapid development of 3G, 4G and 5G in China. In 2021, China’s 4G base stations reached 5.9 million; As of August 2022, the total number of 5G base stations reached 2,102,000, accounting for 19.8 percent of the total number of mobile base stations, and there were 492 million 5G users, accounting for 29.4 percent of mobile phone users. China has built the world’s largest and most advanced 5G network, covering all prefectures, county towns and more than 92% of towns and townships across the country. The mobile network has achieved the leap from “3G breakthrough” to “4G synchronization” and then to “5G leading”. The construction of optical fiber network has strongly supported the development of mobile communication in China.
The development of optical fiber transmission network facilitates the rapid rise and vigorous development of mobile Internet applications. Mobile Internet access traffic increased by 286 times from 770 million GB in 2012 to 221.6 billion GB in 2021, with a compound annual growth rate of 87.6%. The average monthly user traffic (DOU) of mobile Internet increased 158-fold from 98MB in 2012 to 15.2GB in August 2022. At present, mobile Internet applications such as mobile video, mobile music, mobile games, mobile IM, mobile payment and e-commerce have been deeply embedded in People’s Daily life. Internet applications are further integrating with the real economy, promoting the rapid development of China’s digital economy.
The construction of network infrastructure such as optical fiber and cable and the development of new information and communication technologies have strongly supported the development of various communication services, bringing great changes to people’s life and production. Since 2015 China has cancelled the phone domestic long-distance roaming, flow “roaming” charges, etc., fixed broadband unit bandwidth and mobile network flow average rates dropped more than 95%, enterprise broadband and dedicated unit bandwidth average rates decline more than 70%, the JiangFei measures the average annual benefit users more than 1 billion m, the cumulative benefits more than 700 billion yuan. In 2021, the average download rate of fixed broadband was 62.6Mbit/s, an increase of 16.7 times compared with 2013; The average download rate of mobile broadband is 59.3Mbit/s, an increase of 4.0 times compared to 2016. The construction of optical fiber network has brought about a significant increase in network speed, which has played a supporting role in improving people’s quality of life and enterprises’ cost reduction and efficiency increase. Along with the improvement of the service ability of information transmission industry, the new Internet economy developed vigorously, and our country proceeded steadily on the road leading to the network power.
The development of optical fiber and cable industry has walked out a road of independent innovation and achieved a number of global leading optical communication enterprises
Around 2012, China’s optical fiber and cable industry is in a big but not strong state, low-end overcapacity, high-end research and development is insufficient, at the same time facing the low price dumping of foreign enterprises. China association of communication enterprises fiber industry enterprises in China, has launched anti-dumping cases, 14 optical fiber, optical fiber preform in the support of the Ministry of Commerce and the related enterprise joint efforts, 14 cases were obtained, protecting the legal rights and interests of the national enterprise, for our country industry development of optical fiber, optical fiber preform created a favorable external environment, It also provides a larger market space for Chinese optical fiber enterprises. For this reason, the Communication Cable and optical Cable Professional Committee of China Communication Enterprise Association was awarded the Excellence Award of case tracking by the Ministry of Commerce.
After ten years of development, optical fiber cable industry technology, low attenuation in optical fiber preform g. 654. E optical fiber, many core optical fiber, optical fiber to the room (FTTR) solution, terminal gigabit optical interconnection products, special cables, and other fields to strengthen research and development, independent innovation as the core competitiveness, is from the optical fiber cable production country to power. According to incomplete statistics from the patent database of the State Intellectual Property Office, there have been nearly 50,000 patents related to optical fiber and cable, ranking among the top in the world. At present, improved chemical vapor deposition (MCVD), plasma chemical vapor deposition (PCVD), axial vapor deposition (VAD) and out-of-rod chemical vapor deposition (OVD) are widely used in mandrel manufacturing, among which PCVD, VAD and OVD are the main processes in China. Domestic leading enterprises have their own core advantages in light rod technology. In the new wave of the development of optical fiber and cable industry in the past decade, a number of Chinese optical cable enterprises, such as Changfei Optical fiber, Fiberhome Communications, Hengtong Photoelectric, Fortis Group, Zhongtian Technology and so on, continue to grow, technical strength and product competitiveness continue to improve, has developed into a global industry leader enterprises. In Hubei, Jiangsu, Zhejiang, Guangdong, Shandong, Sichuan and other provinces, a number of optical fiber and cable enterprise clusters have been distributed, forming a complete industrial chain.
The development of optical fiber and cable industry is inseparable from the correct guidance of national industrial policy. In 2013, the state issued the “Broadband China” strategy and its implementation plan to vigorously support the optimization and upgrading of urban and rural broadband network infrastructure. In 2018, the national access network was basically optical fiber, the total length of optical fiber lines ranked first in the world, and the national optical network cities were completed. A series of documents, such as the 14th Five-Year National Informatization Plan and the Action Plan for the Coordinated Development of Double Gigabit (2021-2023), have put forward new goals for the development of the industry, clarified the requirements for the development of gigabit users and the construction of optical fiber networks, and further promoted the development of the optical fiber and cable industry. In addition, the launch of the national “East and West calculation” project, telecom operators’ trunk cable upgrade project, for the development of optical fiber and cable industry to bring new market space and development opportunities.